What is unity, really?
The Bible is filled with unity. Today's world is filled with unity. We unify quite often. We come together as a church every Sunday....that's being unified enough, right?
True, biblical unity is characterized by being grounded in the knowledge of God’s Truth.
In a perfect world each and every single one of us would come together and be truly, wholeheartedly unified. Welcome to the real world -a place where that just simply isn't true.
So, what now? Just throw up our arms and give up? Throw a temper tantrum when we don't get our way? Punch the next person that gets on our nerves? Leave the place you love over disagreements? While those simply tend to be our emotional reflexes; that doesn't mean we should resort to those solutions. Even if we want to.
How to be unified and become one body of Christ during a time of disagreement:
It all starts and ends with you! We aren't puppets. You can't simply reach your hand up the back of someone's shirt and literally put the words into their mouth. We are individuals, with our own individual thoughts. And we are always chomping at the bit to let everyone know exactly what is on our mind. The destiny of disagreements are in your hands. How will you handle it?
When I look back some of my biggest arguments (and I'm talking about some pretty radical hot-headed-full-blown-temper type of disagreements) have been with people I absolutely love the most. So, when I see churches fall apart due to disagreements among one another. I completely understand how it happens. Church becomes family. We come together every week, we eat together, we cry together, we pray and serve the Lord together. We become the closest thing to blood relatives. When an issue arises it's almost as if we've been stabbed in the heart. If you think about it, disagreements give us a chance to open up and really get to know each other's views and where our hearts really stand. Disagreements within church (or life, for that matter) give us a chance to connect with one another. It's how you go about handling the disagreement that will determine the health of your relationship.
1) Am I being Christ like?
2) Always, always, always, give it time.
Stop. Think. Step away and really assess the situation. Hypothetically, step in the other person's shoes and see both sides of the situation. Allow time to pass while you do this or before making any decisions.
3) Sometimes it's not about what you say, it's how you say it.
Think before you speak. If you reply in the heat of passion you're probably going to say things you don't mean. Or use an unintentional tone. Generally, people remember what tone of voice you used as opposed to what you actually said. So, really think before you speak.
4) Be tactful. Remember, it's okay to disagree with someone.
We are all different types of people. That's a beautiful thing! Don't focus on the things you don't like about people (because I'm sure there are plenty of things people don't like about you.) Bring light to the positive things that you like about someone. Sometimes you lose a person and they will leave church over something -that you think- is miniscule. This may be something that is really hurtful or strong willed in their heart. Acknowledge that and pray they are able to be healed of their pain.
5) Talk, talk, talk, communicate.
I see so many disagreements, fallen friendships, and estranged families over miscommunication and hearsay. Lay everything out on the table -what you heard, what you think, how you feel. Be honest and speak to one another in a caring manner. As much as you should be talking, be sure to also listen.
6) Above all else, love all!
Love the person that doesn't like you, disagrees with you, follows in sinful footsteps. Sometimes it isn't about fixing things -it's about accepting. Follow along God's path and love each and every person and everything else will follow.
Turn negative into a positive -by being the positive.
Show love -even when you don't want to.
You have the power to unify in the world and in the church by setting an example of what it means to be unified. Stand up, be strong, and be the example of Christ. And remember that sometimes you can agree by agreeing to disagree.